A group of archaeologists conducting searches in a dry Kenyan riverbed has unearthed a trove of ancient stone tools that are much older than any discovered to date. However, the archaeologists still don’t know who made those tools and why.

These newly discovered stone tools, according to scientists, are around 3.3 million years old; this finding of the scientists pushes back the record of stone tools by as much as 700,000 years. What’s even more significant is that these tools are around 500,000 years older than the earliest known ancestor of modern humans.

Scientists used to believe that stone tools with sharp edges were creations of members of our branch in the evolutionary tree. Here the term “members of our own branch” refers to living beings designated as “Homo”; and we all know that our species is scientifically referred to as Homo sapiens.

This recent discovery of the 3.3 million-year-old stone tools has questioned the above-mentioned belief of the scientists. It is indicating that tool making might have started much before the “Homos” came into being and it may be a technique discovered by smaller-brained ancestors of the humans.


The team of archaeologists carrying out this discovery comprised of Jason Lewis and Sonia Harmand of New York’s Stony Brook University. The study has been published on the widely read science journal Nature this Wednesday.

The paper published on Nature includes information on 149 stone flakes and stones discovered on the western parts of Lake Turkana, a place located in northern territories of Kenya. The majority of the studied stones, according to the research team, are “cores”. For those who don’t know: cores are stones, which have been struck for breaking the sharp-edged flakes off. The remaining stones appeared to be used as anvils or hammers.

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Africa is the part of the world where the first member of our branch appeared. As a result, the continent has always been a favorite hunting ground for archaeologists searching for fossils of human ancestors.

The site, where these stone tools have been discovered, was spotted around 4-years back; to be more precise, in July 2011. A crew led by Lewis and Harmand set out for surveying a different area, but accidentally reached this dry Kenyan riverbed.